Anthony Romero and Mike Breeden knew they were on the UFC’s radar, even before they received their Dana White’s Contender Series (DWCS) calls.
On Tuesday night, Canada’s Romero (7-0) and the United States’ Breeden (8-2) will both aim to prove why they caught the attention of the UFC brass when they square off in a lightweight bout on Week Four of DWCS in Las Vegas, NV.
After contract obligations with a previous promotion kept him off last season of DWCS, as well as multiple near-misses for short notice UFC call-ups, Romero, 23, said he knew it was only a matter of time before he had his chance.
“Last year was kind of when I saw that the opportunity was there to get to the UFC, to that next level,” said Romero in an interview with MMA Empire.
“I was supposed to be on the show last year, but unfortunately I had some issues with my contract with the company I was with, so that’s kind of when everything started. I also had opportunities to take short notice calls; I was on that ‘list’ to take a short notice call. I was just on the radar, waiting, taking fights, and keeping my weight ready.”
Much like Romero, Breeden, 31, said he knew it was only a matter of time before his time to shine on the big stage would arrive.
Prior to a highlight-reel finish in his last fight, Breeden said he was on the short list for a UFC call on one occasion, but after that finish it was call after call.
“After that flying knee knockout, I had three other times I almost got pulled in last minute, but it just didn’t work out,” said Breeden in an interview with MMA Empire.
“One of those times, I was in, but I just couldn’t make the weight because it was literally two days notice and cutting 18-20 pounds, plus an 18-hour plane ride. If I could’ve made the weight, I probably would’ve been in the UFC right there. But now we’re here and we’re still going to get there.”
Romero gracious for opportunity
Now that the opportunity he’s been waiting for has finally arrived, Romero said it’s the type of pressure he thrives under.
He said it’s every fighter’s goal to make it to the UFC, and he’s excited for the chance at achieving that goal Tuesday night.
“It’s a huge opportunity and something a lot of people are trying to achieve. Every fighter, or most fighters, are looking to get to the UFC. Very rarely do you see a fighter just fighting because they like to fight,” said Romero.
“This is it, this is what I’ve been waiting for, and I’m so excited and blessed to have the opportunity.”
The past fighters who have earned contracts on DWCS have done so by possessing an exciting and elite skill-set, and showcasing that in front of the UFC brass.
Romero said he believes his style, both inside and outside the cage, are exactly what the UFC is looking for.
“My style is unique. I can dominate on the ground, I can dominate standing up, and, as I showed my last fight, I can finish fights,” said Romero.
“It’s not just about fighting these days, which kind of sucks because a lot of people were getting exposure because they were great fighters. Now, it’s also being marketable to the public. Me being able to speak two languages helps a lot. My style speaks for itself.”
Prior to his last win at Ohio Combat League 7, Romero had owned two finishes on his resume, one knockout and one submission.
Romero added to that total with a quick first round knockout of Jacob Miller to win the Ohio Combat League lightweight title, and he said it reaffirmed he can finish fights.
“That fight was just letting everybody know I can finish fights. It’s just that my game is pretty dominant, and most of my fights that go to a decision is me being like Khabib (Nurmagomedov) in his fights,” said Romero.
“Overall, through all my fights, I’ve been improving my game and getting finishes. That was a big wakeup call to the division.”
Breeden expecting a chess match
Breeden, known for his finishing prowess, boasts seven stoppages on his resume, all of which were by knockout.
Breeden said he’s familiar with what Romero brings to the table, and is expecting a close, technical fight when they share the cage.
“He’s a well-rounded fighter; he’s good everywhere. He’s super tough and probably going to be one of my toughest opponents yet. I know he’s coming in hot, riding an undefeated streak,” said Breeden.
“I’m expecting it to be a chess match. We’re going to see who can find the holes and do what they want.”
With seven of his eight wins coming via knockout, Breeden’s resume speaks for itself, as far as the qualities proven to find success on DWCS.
Breeden said with his knockout power and highlight-reel potential, he believes he’s exactly what Dana White is looking for.
“My style fits really well. I bring action, I’m super exciting, and I finish fights,” said Breeden.
“That’s what he wants to see, aggression, that ‘it’ factor, someone that’s going to bring a crowd in. And that’s what I’m doing.”
After several near-misses in making his UFC debut, Breeden said he’s ready to show what he can do against the best in the world.
He said having this opportunity is proof that his time and dedication to the sport has all been worth it.
“It means everything. It shows all the hard work is paying off. I’ve been in the game 10 years, but I haven’t taken it seriously all 10 years. I’ve only taken it seriously for the past five,” said Breeden.
“I’m just showing you can pick yourself up, even if you get knocked down, and turn it around.”
“I’d like to thank the whole Glory MMA family for helping me get ready for this fight, my coaches (Grant Dawson, James Krause, Jason High, Austen Ford, Stefaan Jefferson), and Iridium Sports Agency. If I missed anyone, I’m sorry.” Follow Breeden on social media: FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM